PROFILE: Simon Bolivar lit Latin American independence spark
Apr 15, 2010, 5:43 GMT
Buenos Aires - Simon Bolivar is the best-known of Latin America's freedom fighters.
His efforts are widely credited with having brought about the end of Spain's colonial domination in northern South America in the early 19th century. Bolivar led armies across current day Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, freeing the territories of Spanish rule over a period of 15 years.
Bolivar was born into a rich family on July 24, 1783 in Caracas, in modern-day Venezuela. He had an elite education and after his parents' death in 1799 he travelled to Spain, where he pursued his studies further. He also visited France and Germany, before returning to Venezuela in 1807.
By leading many of these territories in the independence war of 1810-1825, he rose to the rank of 'Libertador,' liberator.
However, he could not follow up his military success in the political arena. In 1830, faced with growing resistance, he resigned as leader of his hoped-for federation which was called Great Colombia (comprising much of modern-day Colombia, Venezuela, Panama and Ecuador) and he died of tuberculosis on December 17 that year in Santa Marta, in current Colombia.
He had failed in efforts to build a confederation of Latin American states which mirrored the federal plan of the United States. His relatively progressive social views, including the call to abolish slavery, also met with resistance from the wealthy.
Nowadays, however, Bolivar's name stands as a symbol of the goal to unite Latin America politically and economically. Bolivia was named after him, and political movements across the ideological spectrum have claimed to follow on his footsteps. Nationalist movements like that led by left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez explicitly define themselves as Bolivarian.